Local candidates prepare for upcoming Ontario election
On May 2 the lieutenant governor of Ontario, David Onley, ordered a provincial election for the date of June 12. The decision was made by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the leader of the Ontario New Democrats, Andrea Horwath, announced the party would not support the recently proposed Liberal budget.
The candidates of the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, housing both of the region’s universities, seem to have met the announcement with newborn excitement and encouragement.
“I was part of the decision to force the election. The caucus and myself made the decision to not support the Liberal budget,” said the riding’s current member of provincial parliament, Catherine Fife. Fife is the New Democrats’ economic development critic, and was privy to Horwath’s decision.
Jamie Burton, the riding’s Liberal candidate said, “The only thing I thought was ‘Wow, what an incredible opportunity this will be.’ ”
“I was very excited to go into a campaign, because we do need change,” said the Progressive Conservative candidate, Tracey Weiler. Weiler also mentioned the election announcement was a sign the voice of the people has been heard.
The campaign is now in full swing, with candidates making their way through the region to spread their respective party’s platforms. The local candidates have largely taken the same strategy of canvassing door-to-door and meeting with members of the community in various other ways.
The candidates all mentioned that during canvassing, the same core issues of job growth, affordability and transit were concerns of various community members. However, each party differs on how to solve these core issues – especially job growth, which is quickly becoming the main talking point of the parties.
The New Democrats will be releasing their official platform in the near future, but have mentioned a key set of policies that they would enact if elected. Their platform is largely based on affordable hydro services for Ontario, implementing a financial accountability officer, seeking lower auto insurance rates and fostering job growth.
“We have a new job strategy, favouring a targeted tax credit system that focus on rewarding companies who do create jobs,” said Fife.
The Liberal’s platform is mainly running off their recently proposed budget. The budget’s main policies were increasing partnerships with businesses in the province to increase growth and innovation and increasing funding for the province’s various education initiatives.
“The platform is about building opportunity and securing our future,” said Burton.
“I think the key is the policy that has never been done before: the $810 million* investment into the developmental services.”
The Progressive Conservatives are focused mainly on the issues of job growth and reducing Ontario’s current provincial debt.
Their main job policy is called the “Million Jobs Plan,” which aims to create one million new jobs over the next eight years. According to the plan, these jobs will be created through fostering a positive environment for businesses to invest, training more skilled workers to keep up with current demand and reducing red tape.
“We have a plan to grow jobs over the next eight years, including jobs for young people, with youth unemployment being the highest in Ontario today,” said Weiler.
The candidates also discussed what their party’s platforms would bring to the K-W riding, and how each party would impact the region as a whole.
“Jobs will be there for students who either want to stay in the region, or move to another area of Ontario,” said Weiler. “We want to keep K-W the great place to live and work that it is.”
Burton discussed both the new partnerships with OpenText, bringing new jobs to the region and the Liberals’ proposed transit initiative.
“Top of the list is the all-day, two-way Go [train]. It’s a strong piece, and will absolutely increase investment to the community and bring in new business,” said Burton.
Fife also believes the New Democrats would bring jobs to the region through their tax incentive policy, and differs with Burton on transit.
“We have endorsed the K-W plan for two-day all-day Go. That is different than the Liberals, who have just added two new trains,” Fife said.
Overall, the three candidates do agree on a few things. First, the province needs change. Second, their party is going to win the K-W riding.
This further shows the confidence of the three main parties as Ontario moves through the following weeks to election day.
*Editor’s note: a previous version of this story stated the investment was $110 million. The Cord apologizes for this error.